How often have we heard the “Drew Brees is regressing” narrative? Too many times to count, I’m sure. But it’s not the volume of times we hear the chatter. It’s the conviction in people’s voices when they say it. As if it’s set in stone that every year since 2010 will be the year of the regression. On Locked on Saints earlier this week, I compared it to all of the supposed Rapture dates that have come and gone. There’s a whole lot of talk, but no sign of the claim’s reality.
Drew Brees isn’t “regression-proof.” No one is. It’s just about how you continue to evolve with an ever-changing and ever-evolving game. Brees’ trademark has never been the deep ball, so when you mark deep ball throwing power as a sign of regression, you’re already fooling yourself. Brees has always been known as a surgeon, a technician out on the football field. He creates mismatches, understands the chess match three or four moves ahead, and is a ruthless provocateur for any defense. Unforgivingly carving up defenses and exploiting personnel like Hollywood and Richard Roundtree in the 70’s.
All that talk around regression made me think about how things are going for the future Hall of Famer this year. And the answer defies expectations (of those outside of the New Orleans Saints circle, at least) yet again.
Here are some numbers for Drew Brees and the hottest two-game starts to the season.
Nothing if not consistent, right? These numbers are from seasons between 2006 – 2018, his entire stint in New Orleans so far. Incredible that he was able to start hot back then and then find a way to maintain that throughout. Now, as you look at these stats, row is the top five production from the first two games of each season. So let’s find out which ones are from Brees’ incredible start to the 2018 campaign.
Top three in all categories. The regression crowd began to perk up and get their clickbait ready after Sunday’s Cleveland game after Brees missed on a couple of passes. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve shared my fair share of grief about those misses but I never saw then as evidence for regression. Brees has always played his worst against the Browns. Before posting a 114.6 passer rating against them this past Sunday, he had a career passer rating of only 73.3 against the Browns. Worse than his career passer rating against the Baltimore Ravens- the only team he’s yet to beat in his career.
The last element that makes this all so impressive are the stats he’s not topping. Most completions of his career over the first two games? He must be throwing his arm out. Third most touchdowns over two games? He must be careless with the ball. Well, turns out neither is true. Brees is one of two players this season to throw more than five touchdowns in the first two games without throwing a pick. The other, Patrick Mahommes in Kansas City. As for pass attempts. Brees has attempted 80 passes in his first two games, which places him at 8th most in the NFL right now. However, out of his 12 seasons in New Orleans, that’s his fifth-lowest total. He’s top three in all of the above categories without turning the ball over and while sitting in the bottom five of his attempts total.
Brees is off to one of the best starts in his career, in the 17th year of it. But keep talking regression all you want. Oh, and this is Brees’ production while playing Week 2 in what he called a “sloppy offense”. So just wait until the whole unit starts clicking.
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